Saturday, November 7, 2009

Baking Day!

The smell of freshly baked bread wafted through the house while I finished up yesterday's cleaning and worked on dinner. Ahhh... baking day; I love fresh bread! I love kneading the dough. There is something so satisfying about kneading bread. I bet pioneer women loved having this opportunity on a weekly basis, what with the stresses of daily farm life.

Here is how my loaves turned out today.

Below is a simple bread recipe that I have used before. It's one of my favorites!

Easy Wheat Bread (or rolls) - by Helen Farver

5 1/2 cups very warm water

1/2 cup oil

1/2 cup honey

1 tablespoon salt

7 cups freshly milled whole wheat flour

3 tablespoons dry yeast

3-5 more cups whole wheat flour

Combine water, oil, honey, and salt in a bowl. Mix while adding the 7 cups of wheat flour and yeast. Continue mixing and add 3-5 more cups flour until dough pulls away from sides and forms a ball. Knead for 8 minutes. Grease 4 loaf pans - turn oven on to 150 degrees. Divide into four loaves. Let them rise in the oven (with it on) for 25 minutes. Leave the bread in the oven and turn temperature to 350 degrees. Bake for 30 minutes - cool.


Friday, November 6, 2009

Cleaning Day the Old Fashioned Way

Today, being Friday, was cleaning day. I got lots done (including the bathroom, living room, bedroom, and some of the dining room), but while I was working I was thinking of the ways 19th century women cleaned their houses. This turned my attention to the simplicity of which cleaning products should be. We don't need chemicals to thoroughly clean and sterilize our belongings. Because I have a little baby around putting everything in her mouth, I am constantly aware of the fact that what I clean with will probably end up in her mouth at some point. So, combining the concern for my baby's health and safety and the knowledge that I have of old fashioned cleaning supplies, we will look at a few basic items that will also help you be more "green."

Every household almost always has baking soda, vinegar, and lemon juice. These are the basics. So simple! You can always make something a little more elaborate or that has a fragrance, and I will share with you a couple easy recipes for everyday cleaning supplies that can be added to.

1. All purpose cleaner - for two cups of water add a few drops of natural soap (liquid castile soap is a good, safe one). If you want to add a fragrance, add 15-30 drops of your favorite essential oil, such as lavender or tea tree. Put mixture in a spray bottle, and you can clean just about anything.

2. Clogged sink or drain - pour one cup white vinegar and one cup baking soda into the drain/sink, and let it sit for a few minutes. Then pour a tea kettle full of boiling water down to flush it through.

3. Window and glass cleaner - mix half a cup of vinegar to a gallon of water.

4. Toilet bowl cleaner - sprinkle baking soda and lemon juice in the bowl and let it sit. Then use your scrub brush on it.

5. Dusting spray (or furniture polish) - mix a half cup of lemon juice with one cup of olive oil. Wipe down furniture using a soft rag and mixture. Smells better than the store bought!

Hope these are helpful to you! I am keeping an eye out for more interesting and easy ways to clean and disinfect our homes without using chemicals.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Woman's Workweek

So, I thought we would take a look at the old adage about what chore was done on each day of the week.

Wash on Monday
Iron on Tuesday
Mend on Wednesday
Churn on Thursday
Clean on Friday
Bake on Saturday
Rest on Sunday

Since today is Thursday, I should have made some butter. Unfortunately, I didn't have any heavy cream to make some (and I can't eat real butter anyway). So, instead I made peanut butter cookies that used butter. They turned out sooooo well!

Why was there a set day for each chore? Well, here is how I see it. Laundry was done on Monday probably because it was such a hard job, and the mother needed all of her energy. Since she had just rested on Sunday, she was at her best first thing Monday. Tuesday is the logical day for ironing because the clothes were just washed the day before. Since all of the clothes have been labored over meticulously, the woman knows what needs mending on Wednesday. Now on to the kitchen work for the week. Churning butter on Thursday took its time, but I'm sure it was worth it to have butter for that freshly baked bread that was sure to come on the weekend. Friday was the cleaning day. In some ways, my least favorite chore but my favorite day of the week. That probably helped get through the chores of that day by remembering that it was soon going to be the weekend. Baking was done on Saturday so there would be fresh bread for Sunday dinner. Sunday was the much needed day of rest!
Very logical progression of the woman's workweek in the 19th century. So, over the next week, I will share with you my version of these chores in my daily life. Who knows. After having been sick all week, something might actually get done this coming week!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Costumes, Clothes, and Sewing

It's been a long time! Finally getting back to myself after being sick for so long.

Probably the only thing I did while I was sick for a week was make a Laura Ingalls Wilder dress for my cousin for Halloween. It turned out better than I was expecting, and it looked so cute on her!
Making this costume and sharing it with you all leads me to my next topic - sewing.

With the weather continually getting colder (albeit beautiful today!), the winter sweaters, wools, pants, and layers come out. For me, with all of the physical changes I've had going on the past year and a half, my clothes are very sparse this winter. Very few items fit anymore! I guess it is a good problem to have :)
While trying to be thrifty, I have been looking at my fabric stash to see what I can make that will be warm and cozy, as well as fashionably acceptable. I have some nice wools that were just sent to me that should make some very nice skirts!
Pioneers probably did something similar, although they more than likely didn't have a "stash" of fabric like mine. Fabric was expensive and carefully planned out for each garment that needed to be made for each family member. Fabric was also reused. For example, your daughter needs a new dress because she has outgrown her old one. So, mother probably used an old skirt of her own to cut out the daughter's new dress, or at least parts of it.
To see an interesting site that is in Indianapolis and that has many costumes, take a look at Conner Prairie's website -
This idea of reusing fabric is one that I particularly like. I have an old full length skirt that I got at Goodwill Outlet awhile back that is considered dated today (but I love the material!), and I am working on remaking it over into something that I can wear today. Perhaps you will see pictures of this redone skirt in a future post.
Happy sewing!